It was the last Thursday in January, and the last date of the Blue Cheese and Bacon Burger Hellhounds 2010 Tour of Sharky Bar. And the playing was of a highest uber-ian quality, and the audience was keen and engaged, and the Mythical Dude was standing up, and Bong Thom was having out of body experiences, and the Swedish Ambassador was grooving it up, and Jimmy Hellhound was howling and cussing and there may or may not have been some cowbell, and there was certainly some awesome harmonising, like a bunch of old country folk sitting around on someone's porch with big clay bottles of homemade cider ... and they saw that it was good.
And lo they did book the Hellhounds for another month of Thursdays! This will be known as the Sharky's Scratch, Snort, and Drooling Blues Sessions, but will probably still involve blue cheese and bacon burgers at certain junctures.
Friday night was the annual Green Night at META House, an environmental awareness event, with a number of presentations on Copenhagen, Tonle Sap fisheries and solar lighting, and some musical interludes courtesy of singers from Cambodian Living Arts (a first for karaoke at META House) and the now-you-seen-them-now-you-see-them-again Cambodian Space Project. The CSP as usual played with too many people, too loud, for too long, had too much fun, and had to be dragged off the stage with shepherds crooks. So why are we all so happy?
Because Space Commander Bong Jay won a solar light. Because it was a great night. Because the neighbour didn't stop by to tell us to shut up. Because ...
Because the next morning we all got on a bus and headed down to Otres Beach, Sihanoukville, to play Saturday night on the beach between Mama Ying Yang and No Name while it was still possible to do so (i.e. prior to evictions). We got to soundchecking as the sun went down, looking out over the water, pulling out our collective hair over the difficulties of managing generators, wedding-size PA stacks, bus-sized amplifiers -- and this was a stripped-down, low-fat, streamlined machine of drums, bass and guitars with nothing too complicated going on.
We played a good solid sweaty hour-plus-long set (much of which no one can actually remember) to a beach full of dancers in various stages of enjoyment, from the fanatical to the merely engaged. Was there some fire twirling going on nearby? Waves broke gently on the beach, relentless and soulful like the Swedish Ambassador's bass playing. Some beautiful Apsara dancing broke the chain of rock'n'roll, but then CSP played a rather crisis-ridden set (even less of which can be remembered) for about 45 minutes, which seemed to work by sheer force of personality rather than any musical chops, before we imploded under our own weight and had to disperse to the bar and to sleep. Some good tunes though, and we note an increasing tendency towards the epic and anthemic which may have to be closely monitored. The Our Biggest Fan award goes to The Baron Bruno, who later enthused about listening while indulging in the luxurious expanse of the Gulf of Siam under the full moon to the howling and the pounding ... we could all have been anywhere that night, but we were where we would have chosen. Blue benevolent ghosts were watching over us.
Sunday came, and with it a busload of orphans who frolicked on the beach and the sand and were treated to a double bill of D'Sco: The Geckos of Love (unrehearsed, unshaven, and exremely willing) and the Cambodian Space Project (ah, beach life ... from the bed to the bar to the sea to the stage to the bar ... repeat when necessary). The gleeful performance of Srey Thy, the bouncing of Gildas McSwashbuckle, the effortless swaying of The Lovely Irene, the fierce guitar of the Space Commander, the all-encompassing Swedish Ambassador, the enthusiastic but flawed self ... from the rear of the stage the silhouettes were sharp against the shining sea, the music lifting off into the air like hello-aliens-here's-a-time-capsule-of-Otres-Beach, on a mission to the stars. Coming soon, at the speed of sound, to a constellation near you.